|As you know, Central Florida and the world are currently facing an unprecedented public health crisis as we work to manage an outbreak of COVID-19/Coronavirus. As your representative in Congress, my top priority is to protect your health and your economic security during this difficult time.Today, Thursday, April 2nd, at 7:10pm, I will be hosting a public, telephone town hall to speak directly with you and answer your questions regarding COVID-19, resources available to help you, and what we’re doing to get this pandemic under control.
If you would like to join this important conversation, please call 855-962-1334 at 7:05pm on Thursday, or join us online at https://demings.house.gov/live.
Below, you can find the current status of efforts to contain COVID-19, and resources to help you and your family during this pandemic. As you may know, Congress has also passed major expansions of health care funding, unemployment insurance, small business support, and other measures to help Americans weather this storm. You can find additional information on this work below.
It is vital that you take this outbreak as seriously as possible and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of this new strain of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
COVID-19 is a flu-like virus which spreads through liquid droplets in the air and on surfaces. It can spread without you noticing, and people who appear healthy can be infected. Visible symptoms include a high fever and a dry cough.
This disease is significantly more severe than the seasonal flu, frequently requiring hospitalization and medical intervention. It is especially deadly for seniors and Americans with compromised immune systems, but everyone is potentially at risk, and growing numbers of young and healthy Americans have been hospitalized.
Any time you are close to another person, or touch a surface and then touch your face, you are at risk of exposure. To protect yourself and others, please:
- Wash your hands often, with hot water and soap. You should wash for at least 20 seconds, which is the minimum amount of time required to break down bacteria and germs.
- Stay home to the greatest extent possible (please be aware that Orange County is currently on a mandatory shelter at home order, banning all non-essential movement).
- If you must go out, maintain a six-foot separation between yourself and other people.
- Cover your mouth with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your face—especially your eyes, nose, and mouth—as much as possible.
- Disinfect surfaces with bleach, high-concentration alcohol, or soap and water.
Rely on trusted sources like Orange County, the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Be wary of false information on social media.
|What To Do If You Feel Sick
If you begin to feel sick, call your primary health care provider. Do not go to an emergency room. Do not go to a doctor’s office. This will spread the virus.
There is a drive-through testing site at the Orlando Convention Center. Please only get tested if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or if you are a health care worker or first responder.
For more information on testing, you can contact the Florida Health Department COVID-19 Hotline, which is open 24/7, at 1 (866) 779-6121
|Current News and Important Updates
Orange County is currently on a mandatory stay-at-home order. This means you should not leave home for any reason except essential travel. “Essential” travel means:
- Grocery shopping or picking up food (please remember to abide by the safety strategies above)
- Going to work (if you are unable to work from home)
- Picking up medication, or other medical needs (including for your pets)
The U.S. State Department has announced a Level 4 travel advisory, meaning any non-essential travel outside of the country should be cancelled until further notice. If you are travelling (this is strongly discouraged), please enroll in the State Department’s STEP program here.
The IRS has extended the tax filing deadline for this year. The new deadline is July 15th. Please file before this deadline if you are able.
There are resources available to help you through this difficult time.
A list of local resources can be found here.
If you need assistance on these or any other issues, please contact my office here.
Unemployment and Reemployment Insurance
If you need unemployment insurance, you can get more information and sign up here.
If you or a family member has been impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive Reemployment Assistance. Visit Floridajobs.org for more information.
Information on companies currently hiring can be found here. Additional help can be found here.
Our latest legislative relief being considered by Congress, if signed by the president, will increase unemployment insurance in Florida from $275 to $875 per week.
If you need financial help, healthcare, or are in crisis, please call the free Heart of Florida United Way’s hotline. It is available 24/7 by dialing 211 or by texting your zip code to 898-211.
Additionally, your local credit union may be able to provide low interest loans (in some cases even 0%), the ability to skip a payment on mortgages and other loans, and other assistance programs.
Orange County has currently suspended all evictions and foreclosures. For help staying in your home, please call the Orange County Crisis Assistance Hotline at 407-836-6500.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida works with hundreds of partners to ensure that no Central Floridian goes hungry. Their locations can be found here. There is also a food assistance form if you are unable to make it to a physical location.
Heart of Florida United Way has food assistance available by dialing 211 or by texting your zip code to 898-211
Orange County Public Schools are currently handing out free “grab n go” meals to students. These are available at Orange County schools from 10:00am to 2:00pm. The student must be present (in a car or on foot) to receive the meal. No child will be turned away. A full list of locations can be found here.
Please also remember that many restaurants are still open for delivery and carry-out meals. Our small businesses need our support during this tough time.
Help for Small Businesses
The Small Business Administration is offering low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans to small businesses and private non-profit organizations that have been financially impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Up to $2 million is available to help pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills. You can see if your business qualifies and apply for assistance here.
The state of Florida is offering Florida Emergency Bridge Loans for small business owners with two to 100 employees. These are interest-free loans of up to $50,000. For information can be found here. The deadline for this program is May 8th.
Finally, we recently passed legislation to create a refundable payroll tax credit for small businesses for paid sick, family, and medical leave paid to employees affected by COVID-19. More information can be found here.
Information About Federal Mortgages
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will suspend evictions and foreclosures for the next 60 days. The moratorium only applies to homeowners with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), such as those in public housing.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are providing payment forbearance to borrowers impacted by the coronavirus for up to 12 months due to hardship. Additionally, Freddie Mac has implemented a program offering relief to multifamily landlords whose mortgages are financed with a Freddie Mac multifamily fully performing loan. Contact your mortgage provider for more information.
VA-backed Loans: The VA has asked mortgage providers to help distressed borrowers during this period. Please reach out to your mortgage provider for more information.
Private Lenders (from Forbes)
- Ally Bank: Offering payment deferral for up to 120 days with no impact to your credit on home loans for customers affected by COVID-19.
- Bank of America: “If a person has a hardship related to the coronavirus and is unable to pay us or has an issue with their account, we encourage them to call our client services team…Home Loans Special Payment Forbearance and auto loan extensions are available to clients to assist with suspending payments during this difficult time.”
- BB&T: Offering mortgage forbearance for a minimum of 90 days for customers impacted by the current crisis.
- BMO Harris: Offering payment relief options on mortgages, home equity, loans and credit cards. Contact BMO Harris directly for more information.
- Charles Schwab Bank: Offering customers with mortgages or home equity lines of credit through Charles Schwab Bank and Quicken Loans can request payment relief for up to 90 days.
- Chase: Offering assistance with mortgage payments. Call 800-848-9380 for more information.
- Citi: Offering various hardship programs for eligible mortgage customers. Call 1-855-839-6253 for more information.
- Comerica Bank: Offering loan deferrals on various lending products. Call 888-444-9876 to discuss options for residential mortgage loans.
- East West Bank: Offering temporary mortgage payment relief options for those who are unable to make their mortgage payments due to a disruption of income related to COVID-19.
- Fifth Third Bank: Offering 90-day payment forbearance with no late fees on mortgages and home equity loans.
- HSBC: Offering financial assistance programs to help with customers’ mortgage or home equity loan payments who have suffered financial hardship. Call 855-806-4657 for more information.
- Huntington National Bank: Offering up to 90 days of payment deferral on all consumer loans, including residential mortgages, for those experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.
- M&T Bank: Offering mortgage and home equity repayment assistance to customers whose income has been reduced due to COVID-19 impact.
- New York Community Bank: Offering 90-day residential mortgage payment forbearances for customers whose income has been negative impacted by events linked to COVID-19.
- PNC Bank: Offering to postpone payments for up to 90 days with no late fees for customers with mortgages or home equity loans, among other lending products that are eligible.
- Quicken Loans: “We are following the processes outlined by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae to provide forbearance relief to those affected by COVID-19.”
- Regions Bank: Offering consumer mortgage payment relief upon request for 90 days for those negatively impacted by COVID-19.
- SunTrust: Offering mortgage forbearance for a minimum of 90 days for customers impacted by the current crisis.
- TD Bank: Offering payment deferral program for mortgages and home equity loans or lines of credit, as well as waiving late payment fees on each type of home loan product.
- Union Bank: Offering assistance with your mortgage or home equity account. For more information, called 800-237-0561.
- U.S. Bank: Offering a payment forbearance up to 90 days with no late fees on mortgages for those negatively impacted by the current crisis.
- Webster Bank: Offering options for payment deferrals on mortgages, home equity or personal loans, and small business loans, based on need. Webster is also putting in place a 90-day moratorium on foreclosure of residential loans.
- Wells Fargo: Offering payment deferral plans for customers with mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, small business loans and personal loans who have been impacted by COVID-19.
To address the damage caused by Coronavirus and protect Americans’ economic security, we have passed three crucial pieces of legislation to provide emergency funds for health assistance, free testing, loans for small businesses affected by the outbreak, vaccines and other critical medical supplies, food programs (especially for the children and elderly), and expanded unemployment benefits. We have also established a federal emergency paid leave benefits program and required certain employers to issue paid sick leave for employees.
Last week, we passed a third and larger legislative package. I fought to ensure that this legislation puts workers and small businesses first. Our communities need direct and immediate assistance to keep us afloat during the pandemic. As part of this package, Democrats have fought for and won:
- A massive increase in Unemployment Insurance benefits to match the average paycheck, including to freelancers and gig workers who are typically excluded but compose a large and growing part of the U.S. economy.
- A significant expansion of fast relief for small businesses, and making rent, mortgage and utility costs eligible for SBA loan forgiveness. Additionally, loans for businesses who retain workers (and loan forgiveness if those workers are paid)
- Billions of dollars for hospitals and safety equipment to keep doctors, nurses, and first responders safe
- Billions of dollars of emergency education funding and debt relief for student loans.
- Prevention of secret bailouts, and special oversight requirements to require that money being given to big business is spend on workers, not enriching owners.
In addition to this legislative work, I have been working to ensure that IRS refunds are not delayed, to protect first responders, to ensure that Florida gets the medical supplies and materials we need, and to push the governor to extend a shelter in place order to cover all of Florida in the interest of public safety.